16 Jul 2023

Madhya Pradesh: What Caused Death Of So Many Cheetahs In Quick Succession At Kuno National Park In Sheopur? What Union Minister Bhupendra Yadav Said?

Sheopur: The death of eight cheetahs in Madhya Pradesh's Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh's Sheopur district has shocked the wildlife lovers. Many even fear the ambitious project to rehabilitate the cheetahs in India is doomed. 

On the death of eight cheetahs one after the other in Madhya Pradesh's Kuno National Park, Union Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav told that the matter is being reviewed.

Union Minister Yadav said, "Our team is looking after the entire system and training. We are continuing our review and dialogue with the international experts who are associated with us for the conservation of cheetahs. We are aware of all the concerns but the Cheetahs will not be shifted from Madhya Pradesh.” 

Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, JS Chouhan, said the cause of death of the cheetah that perished on July 14 will be known after a post-mortem."

Central team will visit Kuno

The Minister said, “We are committed to taking care of cheetahs. One of our teams will also go to Kuno National Park. It was reviewed earlier also."

Two cheetahs Tejas and Suraj died in quick succession last week sending shock waves. After the death of Suraj in Kuno on last Friday, the death toll of cheetahs reached eight.

This cheetah 'Suraj' was brought from South Africa. The cause of death has not yet been ascertained.

India has lost five of the 20 cheetahs brought from Namibia and S Africa, and three of the four cubs born to a female cheetah in March have already perished from malnutrition and heat.

Cheetahs could have died due to the satellite collars

Meanwhile, there are apprehensions that the cheetahs could have died due to the satellite collars attached to their necks although this is not yet confirmed. With the help of Satellite Collar IDs placed around the cheetahs' necks, Kuno officials closely track their movements, activities, and state of health. Officials are not probing if Collar IDs caused the death of felines. 

Experts use collar IDs to learn more about the animal's physical state in addition to its location. These tags also communicate health-related information, which can be used to determine whether the animal needs assistance or treatment.

Some wildlife experts think that the cheetahs' neck collars are an unexpected problem because the country's humid climate might have caused inflammation, bacterial infections, and septicaemia.

Wounds in both cheetahs were not caused by another animal

An associate professor at the University of Pretoria in South Africa said the wounds in both the cheetahs Suraj and Tejas were almost certainly not caused by another animal, but by a problem that we did not foresee because we put collars on cheetahs in Africa without a problem. But collars are causing problem in India.

The cheetah Tejas that passed away on Tuesday underwent a preliminary post-mortem investigation. Video footage of the wounds close to the necks of both dead cheetahs also suggests that they perished as a result of life-threatening septicaemia (bacterial blood poisoning), which started as skin inflammation beneath the collar. 

Water accumulates underneath the collar due to wet weather?

South African cheetah expert Dr Adrian Tordiffe said “Possibly because of the humid or wet weather, water accumulates underneath the collar and causes the skin to be constantly wet. This causes dermatitis, infection of the skin, which then attracts flies to the area. These flies lay eggs, and the fly larvae – or maggots – feed on tissues and create wounds that get infected and can lead to systemic infection.”

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